President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday placed his Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on special leave amid swirling allegations of improperly benefiting from a dodgy Covid-19 communications tender.
The Special Investigating Unit has already found that the R150 million communications tender was improperly awarded to Digital Vibes, a company owned by the health minister’s “comrades”.
Allegations are that Digital Vibes paid for repairs to the Mkhize family home and also bought a bakkie for the minister’s son.
Ramaphosa had promised he was dealing with the “serious and disturbing” allegations against Mkhize.
On Tuesday, Mkhize who denies any wrongdoing, was placed on special leave while he was addressing journalists on the matter in the Northern Cape, where he had been inspecting vaccination sites.
A statement from the Presidency said: “This period of special leave will enable the minister to attend to allegations and investigations concerning contracts between the Department of Health and a service provider, Digital Vibes.
“The Special Investigating Unit is investigating this matter and the president awaits a report on the outcome of this probe.
“Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane will serve as acting minister of health until further notice.”
The suspension of the health minister comes at a time when South Africa is experiencing a Covid-19 surge. Most parts of the country are in the third wave of the pandemic.
South African, with a population of 60 million, has about 1,7 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and just over 59 000 deaths.